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Dark, Darker, ...

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Black Sunrise". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: BtVS, Noir. Black Sunrise series, part 2. While Dawn tries to learn and deal with the changes forced upon her during Halloween, enemies, both old and new, come to Hellmouth. Completed.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anime > NoirArjenFR15322,593155,05418 Jul 0422 Jul 04Yes

Grounded

Title: Dark, Darker, …

Author: Arjen

Length: About 22.000 words

Summary: While Dawn tries to learn and deal with the changes forced upon
her during Halloween, enemies, both old and new, come to Hellmouth.

Pairings: Nothing that isn’t canon.

Rating: This story might not be suitable for young children.

Crossover: Noir


Chronology:
Black Sunrise
The Day After
Dark, Darker, …
Unforeseen Consequences: Heart of Darkness
Christmas Shopping
Unforeseen Consequences: Revelations

Disclaimer: All characters are property of Mutant Enemy, ADV films and
whoever else wants to lay claim to them. Everything that I thought up is made
using their property so I can’t really claim that either.

Feedback: Preferably constructive criticism, tell me what I’ve done
right and wrong and I’ll be happy. Flames I consider as written by five years
old who according to that ridiculous rating system aren’t allowed to read this.


In case you are unfamiliar with Noir, there is a primer for it in the
story before this one, The Day After which of course can be found on this site
as well.


Background: Dawn was created early and the monks weren’t stupid
enough to lead Glory directly to her. During Halloween ‘97 she was possessed by
Kirika from Noir. Afterwards she retained the memories of this assassin and had
gained knowledge of the supernatural. The next day she found out who it was that
had caused this to happen and she gained an idea of what it would do to her.
This story starts about a week and a half after The Day After. Like before, the
rest of Sunnydale is blissfully unaware of her changed status.



~~~~~~~~~~~~ indicates a change of POV


 


 


Part 1: Grounded


 


It wasn’t easy, acting as if nothing was wrong with her. While she didn’t
think anyone had noticed the terrible headaches she suffered, hiding the rest of
the newest complications to her life had proven to be more difficult. Well, not
that difficult, Dawn amended herself. After all, while it had taken her almost
two weeks, Buffy now believed there wasn’t anything wrong with her. But even
achieving that hadn’t been easy and there had been several close calls, like
that time she had helped her mother in the kitchen.


She still didn’t completely understand why the woman had freaked out like
that though, it wasn’t as if anything had been about to happen. And a lot of
people were able to handle a knife like that, at least she had seen people do so
on TV. But it was a mother’s prerogative to worry and as it showed Dawn that
hers still loved her she wasn’t about to complain.


Once again staring out of the window she uttered a soft sigh, a lot more had
changed than she had originally believed. Luckily she had at least somehow
managed not to alienate her real friends yet, although they had started
questioning her strange behavior. Other changes had a greater direct influence
however, like the martial arts classes. She could feel a slight smile appearing
on her face as she remembered her first lesson.


Once on the mat she hadn’t exhibited the customary nervousness the other
students were probably used to from the new people. Some of them hadn’t
appreciated that and during the entire lesson they had decided to show the
uppity girl exactly what she had signed up for. The slight smile on her face
widened into a broad grin as she recalled exactly how they had learned that even
without the proper physical capabilities she had been more then able to take
down some half-trained children. It had been strangely satisfying to see how
after the first two had been shown the error of their ways the others had
suddenly all backed up.


Maybe backed up a little too far though, while she had had several classes
now she hadn’t made a single new friend. And that was something that should have
happened even with everyone knowing about Buffy and they didn’t! Looking at the
girl reflected in the glass she could see how the smile had disappeared and that
almost emotionless look had once again started to appear in her eyes. A look
that over the past week had started to appear more and more often.


That look more or less told the entire story of what was happening to her.
The merging had started and it had actually taken her a while to discover that.
While she had knowingly tapped into the knowledge of skills that were necessary
for improving her physical condition it had come as a shock when it had carried
over to other areas. Dawn knew that by now she spoke more languages than
probably anyone else in Sunnydale, that had always been one of the things Kirika
had been known for in the series, but what had surprised her was the way she
could now learn new ones.


In hindsight it was obvious that Altena would have taught her the best way to
pick up a new language but when, without thinking about it, she had started
using those lessons in her attempts to decipher the languages needed to read
certain books, it had scared her. The speed with which she was suddenly able to
learn and remember every detail of the grammar in those languages could barely
be called natural. And of course, that couldn’t have been all.


This time the sigh was louder as she wondered what other little things she
would find out about in the near future. Hey, who knows, she might actually find
out Kirika’s real name if those memories proved to be accessible as well.


“Miss Summers!”


How dare that man? Turning her head forward she glared at her teacher who had
dared to disturb her while she had been thinking. As the man actually took a
step back in shock at her furious gaze she suddenly realized the rest of the
class was looking at her. The knowledge that she had let her herself slip
overrode the satisfaction she had at first felt when Mister Fowler had taken
that step. Knowing she had to placate her math teacher before she was to suffer
any disciplinary actions she made her eyes look as innocent as possible and
asked him what he wanted.


“For you to pay attention would be a nice start.”


“I was paying attention.” Okay, she wasn’t but did that really matter? It was
only math and she could remember solving for more difficult problems than the
one currently on the blackboard.


“How come you didn’t reply when I called your name the first five times
then?”


He had called before and she hadn’t heard him? That wasn’t good, she had
always known what was going around her and never actually not heard someone call
her name. “Oh, I’m sorry?”


“Not good enough, I think it would be best if you did some extra work for the
next class. That way you won’t be behind the rest of the class.” Behind? She was
light-years ahead of these dimwits! Gritting her teeth as she heard him tell her
what detention-work he expected her to do she swore that she would show him why
it was a stupid idea to piss her off.



Jane watched her best friend as she sat completely still in her seat.
Completely still that is, except for her eyes that seemed to spit fire. She had
no idea what had been going on with Dawn these last two weeks but the brunette’s
behavior had started to worry her. One moment she would be her normal, cheerful
self while chattering about that friend of her sister that seemed to fill most
of her thoughts nowadays and the next she would be totally different. It was
hard to say exactly what the change was but it was obvious to her that, in those
moments, someone else was staring out of her friend’s eyes.


She didn’t know much about mental disorders and had no idea if it was
possible for anyone to get multiple personalities so suddenly but that was what
it reminded her of. And the other personalities weren’t nearly as nice as the
Dawn she had known for the last year. She had been glancing at Dawn every so
often during this, admittedly boring, class and had noticed how the other girl
was looking out of the window. The window however had reflected the other’s face
and the things she could see in it were bad, very bad.


There had still been some of the old Dawn recognizable in the face but she
wasn’t nearly as pronounced as even a week earlier. When she had first noticed
her friend’s behavior she had tried to identify the different personalities.
There had been the exuberant, cheerful Dawn who was maybe a little too fond of
teasing her sister but that hadn’t been anything new. Then she had discovered
the sad and quiet girl, she had no idea why that one was so sad and the only
time she had dared to ask it had been shrugged off before the exuberant Dawn had
come back.


And finally there had been the scary one, the girl who she had immediately
recognized as someone she didn’t want to be angry with her. No matter how good a
friend she was of Dawn, the emotionless expression in that one’s eyes had shown
her how that friendship might not always be important enough. But now there was
this, where the scary Dawn had been, well scary, this one was plainly terrifying
and she wondered where this new personality had suddenly come from. And if it
meant that even more would be coming.


She would have to talk with Sara again about this new development. Their
earlier talks had at least proven that both of them were worried about their
friend and both knew they would do everything they could in order to help Dawn.
Not that they knew how to do that but the two of them would act as the
supportive friends they were and one day they’d find out a way to help her.


Talking things over with Dawn’s family had been something they had considered
but decided against. While they probably already knew something was wrong, Dawn
wouldn’t like it if the two of them were the ones to tell them if they didn’t.
If Dawn’s mother or sister started the talking she would speak but otherwise
she’d keep her mouth shut.


Despite their best attempts however they hadn’t so far come up with anything
else that might be useful. And if her friend’s behavior kept getting worse, Jane
wasn’t certain she would be able to deal with it for long. If Dawn would
actually turn those hateful eyes against her she was pretty certain she couldn’t
handle it. Hah, she snorted, not even Mister Fowler had been able to handle
that. All this however, meant that for now all she could do was sit here, worry
about her friend and wait until an opportunity presented itself.



Still fuming about the unfair way she had been treated by her teachers Dawn
stormed home, not even bothering to acknowledge the goodbyes of her friends.
After that insignificant twit Fowler had given her extra work the other teachers
had actually had the gall to do the same! All of them! She ought to go and kill
them, unprofessional or not she didn’t care about being paid this time.


She immediately stopped in the middle of the walkway, had she actually
thought that? Blinking furiously she considered her actions of the day. Looking
at her behavior from a new perspective she realized the teachers had been right
to punish her, no matter how unfair she thought it to be. But why had she been
reacting so extreme? Thinking of her behavior didn’t show her why it had
happened, one moment she had been doing her normal thinking thing and the next…


Was it another part of the merging? But that didn’t make any sense, none at
all. Furrowing her brow she wondered what exactly could be the cause of this
strange behavior. Kirika had never been like that in either of her
personalities, she had always kept her emotions in control. Why then was she
starting to feel as if the slightest thing could set her off?


Standing there all alone while the cold wind was busy disarranging her hair,
Dawn considered everything that she could think of that might actually be
responsible for her behavior. For example, why was she getting so angry when all
those insignificant people didn’t give her the respect she was due? While they
were, of course, in the wrong about that she didn’t understand why she was
reacting so strongly to it.


Shaking her head she decided to continue on her way home instead of trying to
figure it out here. She might as well think about it at the same time she was
dealing with her schoolwork, it wasn’t as if she actually needed to concentrate
on that.


She stopped again as a terrifying thought hit her. What if she couldn’t
figure out what to do? She might need to go and ask someone for advice but who
could she go to? Who might help without trying to ask questions she had no
intention of answering?



“Dawn?”


“Can we talk?”


Jane was surprised by the visit of her friend, who she knew was supposed to
be at her martial arts club, but didn’t let that deter her from inviting the
girl in. “Sure, come in.”


Leading Dawn to her room she wondered why her friend was here instead of
where she was supposed to be, was she actually going to receive an explanation
of the strange behavior?


 “So, why are you here? I thought that you had to go and do your fighting
thing?”


“I can’t.” Huh? She wasn’t making a lot of sense was she?


“What do you mean, you can’t?”


“I’m afraid.” And for the first time in weeks Jane could see behind the masks
her friend had adopted. What she saw however, was even worse than she could have
imagined even in her wildest dreams. Even alone the heart-wrenching cry for help
that shone out of the girl’s eyes would have been enough to melt even the
coldest heart.


Getting out of her chair she joined the other girl on the bed and put her
arms around her. Drawing Dawn’s head down to her shoulder, which immediately
started to feel damp, she couldn’t help but wonder. Oh god, this was even worse
than she had at first thought. What could possibly be happening with her friend?



“Ssshh, relax. I’m here to help you.” Making comforting noises as she
caressed her friend’s head seemed to be the only thing she could do. At least
until the girl had finished crying, once that had happened there was going to be
talking. And this time Dawn wouldn’t get away without at least telling her
something of use.


* * *


“So, are you going to tell me why exactly you ruined my favorite shirt?” Jane
asked, trying to clear the air a little.


“That’s not your favorite shirt.”


“Yes it is, don’t you think I know what my own favorite shirt is?”


“Three weeks ago you told me that blue one was you favorite.” Dawn tried to
convince her.


While Jane was happy the brunette was starting to come out of her depression
she couldn’t just let this go. “No, you’re talking about my other favorite
shirt.”


“Other favorite shirt?” Dawn asked incredulously. “How can you have more than
one favorite shirt?”


“Why can’t you?”


“Don’t turn the question around. Besides, favorite implies better than all
the others, not better than most of the others.” Her friend stressed the word
‘all’ but Jane didn’t care.


“Not with me, it doesn’t. If I want to have more than one favorite shirt I’ll
have more than one favorite shirt and there’s no way you can convince me
otherwise.” To underline her statement she put on her most stubborn expression,
maybe this was a little silly but not even her best friend would be allowed to
dictate the way she ran her life, or wardrobe.


A smile cracked the teary face of her friend and she once more wondered what
it was that had so changed the other. “Silly cow.”


Silly cow? Well, she hadn’t changed that much. “I’m not silly.” Shit, she
just realized what she had said.


“I’m terribly sorry, miss cow.”


“Oh you, you. Argh! I can’t find a good word to describe you.” Okay, this was
not the time to start something like this. From past experience she knew both of
them could keep the silly statements up for hours and she wanted to know what
was going on. So taking a deep breath she repeated her earlier question. “But
enough of that. You came here for a reason. So tell me, what’s going on?”


“I’m not sure how to begin.” It was strange, she had never really considered
Dawn small and the past weeks she had seemed even taller than before but looking
at her now there was only a tiny and vulnerable girl.


“You said you were afraid to go do your fighting thing, why is that?”


“I’m afraid I’ll hurt someone.” It came out barely louder than a whisper and
Jane almost doubted she had heard it correctly. Dawn was afraid of hurting
someone? She who had started about a week ago was afraid she’d hurt someone? She
knew her friend had not been doing the usual once a week thing but she doubted
it was normal for anyone to believe after only a couple of lessons that she was
better then those who had been there longer. Unless…


“You’re afraid you’ll hurt someone outside of the lessons with what you’ve
learned?”


“No, I’m afraid I’ll hurt the ones there.”


“But why? I mean they’re all better than you are, aren’t they?”


Dawn shook her head when she answered that question. “No, I know my technique
is better. It’s just that I can’t do most things.”


Okay, that made a lot of sense. NOT! “You’ve kinda lost me there.”


“Like I said, it’s hard to explain. I mean it’s…” She trailed of for a moment
before picking up again. “You know those jokes you sometimes hear in movies
about how many ways they know how to kill people with one finger?”


“Yeah…” Where was she going with this?


“Eight.”


She had to blink at that. “What do you mean eight?”


“That’s how many I know.” WOW! Holy shit! “But physically I’m not capable of
doing any.”


“Are you serious?” Even as the other nodded in confirmation she couldn’t
really wrap her mind around this new knowledge. “But how?”


“I don’t really know how to explain it.”


“You’ve already said that, why don’t you try?” Oops, as she noticed the
sudden flash of anger in her friend’s face Jane understood she had said the
wrong thing. Dawn was in sharing mode now and she really shouldn’t mess that up
by getting the angry personality to come forward. For a moment she had forgotten
about that, but now that she remembered she figured it might actually be a
symptom of her friend’s problems. “Sorry, forget I said that. Okay, now don’t
get angry at me for asking this but does it have anything to do with how you’ve
been behaving lately?”


Dawn flinched at that. “You’ve noticed that?”


“You scared Mister Fowler half to death today. How do you think I could
possibly miss that?”


Another sigh. “That is indeed my problem. I’m losing my temper all the time
now, it’s almost as if I can’t help it. It wasn’t that bad at first you know. I
mostly just went silent and stuff, which didn’t really matter since you and Sara
weren’t there. But now this…”


“The angry thing…”


“Yeah. It doesn’t make any sense but I don’t know what to do.”


Finally she knew the reason her friend had come and she couldn’t help but
feel some pride in herself that it was her she had come to, instead of a member
of her family. “So you thought you’d come to the Amazing Jane with all the
answers.”


“Something like that yes.” Was said with a tiny smile. It was strange, since
Dawn had arrived here she had shown more emotions then in the entire week
before. Did this mean that progress was being made?


“Okay then, let’s figure something out.” Getting up from the bed she started
pacing. “What do we know? One, you are experiencing sudden bouts of anger. Two,
this anger isn’t directed at anyone in particular. And three, you are capable of
actually using that anger in a way that people would probably not approve of.
That’s right isn’t it?”


“Yes.”


“PMS?”


“What? No! I think I’d go to my mother if it was something like that Jane.”
Well, it was worth a shot. She didn’t think it was the answer but well, you
never know.


“Okay then, let’s think. Who do we know that has the same characteristics?”


“Buffy?”


“Your sister? Nah, if I’m gonna be honest I can understand most of her anger.
Especially the part directed at you since you never fail to give her a good
excuse. And besides I don’t think that burning down the gym would help you get
rid of the anger.”


“Don’t drag that up, okay? She actually explained to me why she did it and
she had a very good reason.” Dawn defending her sister? Was this some kind of
alternate reality or something? And what kind of good reason could there
possibly be for burning down the gym? Had it been the school itself she would
have understood, but the gym? Dawn appeared to know what she was going to ask
and preempted the question. “No, I’m not gonna tell you why she did it. It’s not
my story to tell.”


“Okay, okay. I wasn’t even going to ask.” The look she received told her
exactly how likely Dawn thought that was but she didn’t let it deter her. “But
we were working on you problem and now that I think about it, I realize we were
looking at it from the wrong direction.”


“What do you mean?”


“Well, it’s obvious that we’re not gonna find the solution if we look for
people who have all those characteristics. We need to look at people who have
only the third and somehow manage to control the other two.”


“What, you know someone like that?”


Oh yeah, that was kind of a problem. But wait. “Not personally, but isn’t
that what television is for?”


“What do you mean?” Huh, her voice was quivering a little. What could be so
bad about television?


“Well, I remember watching quite some movies and series where the hero was
capable of killing people but could also stop himself from doing so.”


“But that’s not real.”


“That doesn’t matter.” She waved that tiny obstacle away, she was on a roll
here. “The theory behind it is sound. Now let’s think, who do we know that is
capable of murder and control? Oh, I know! Kirika.” That got a strange reaction.
It was almost as if Dawn suddenly loosed another of her personalities.


“No!” The expressionless face told her. “Kirika isn’t capable of dealing with
this, try someone else.”


“But why? I mean she is perfect for a…”


“I said no!” The anger blazing out of Dawn’s eyes told her in no uncertain
terms that she shouldn’t continue this.


“Okay, okay. We’ll use someone else.” But who? She rather doubted trying
anyone else from Noir would be a good thing. Considering that Kirika had always
been Dawn’s favorite character. “Leon!”


“What?”


“Leon, from the Professional. You know, the no women no kids guy.”


“Oh him, yeah he might work.” Don’t sound to excited Dawn! Sheesh, it was
almost as if she didn’t really care anymore.


“Yeah, but how does he control himself?” That was still the question, wasn’t
it?


“He drinks milk?”


“Nah, that isn’t it.” She spent some time thinking before she suddenly had
the answer. “The plant!”


“What about the plant? You want me to get a plant?”


“No silly, I said it was the theory that was important. He used the plant to
ground himself.”


“Ground himself? Did you come up with that theory yourself?”


Hey, there was no need to be insulting here. “Yes I did. Why? Don’t you like
it? Because I think it kinda works, actually I think it’s a great theory and
since I came up with it to help you, you should be happy with it as well.”


“Perhaps, but what could I possibly use to ground myself? I rather doubt a
plant is going to work.”


“Duh, you need something that means something to you and I’ve never really
thought of you as a plant person. Knowing you, the plant would probably die of
thirst within a week.”


“I’m not that bad am I?” Yes you are Dawn, but I’m not gonna say that since
I’m trying to help you here.


The switch of subjects wasn’t the smoothest and she was pretty certain Dawn
noticed it, but that didn’t matter. “But the question remains, what could you
use to ground yourself?” Musing she considered every character she had ever seen
but the most obvious person she could think of was Kirika who had used the watch
in that manner. Saying so however caused another burst of anger.


“I told you not to use Kirika as an example!”


“But it works, can’t you see? She is a prime example, when the melody of that
watch plays…”


“I said no!” It was obvious Dawn was having trouble with her temper again but
she visibly tried to calm herself down. “Look, thanks for the help. I really
appreciate it but if I don’t go now I’m gonna do something I’d rather not.”


“Oh, I’ll talk to you tomorrow then?” She really didn’t want to see the other
girl go, especially since this conversation had not only failed to provide the
answers she had been looking for but actually created more questions.


“Sure, look I just need some time alone right now okay? I’ll let myself out.”


“Oh, okay, bye then.” Despondently she looked at the retreating back of her
best friend and was once again overcome with the feeling of helplessness that
had marked the past week. Why couldn’t she help her?


No, that had to wait until later. She now had new things to tell Sara even if
most of them were rather obscure. She waited until she heard the door close
downstairs before she picked up her telephone and dialed the number of her other
best friend. After all, if she could have more than one favorite shirt she could
have more than one best friend, couldn’t she?



“DAMN IT!” She shouted out to tell the world it was being unfair to her. Why
couldn’t she have a normal life like everyone else? She’d even settle for no
knowledge about the supernatural and a normal boyfriend, preferably Xander. But
no, Dawn Summers wasn’t meant to be normal, no, she had to get possessed by an
assassin and kill a little boy while doing so.


Why? Why? Why was it her life that had to be screwed up like this? Realizing
she was now royally pissed off, and in need of some relieve from this, she
turned around, took the knife she still carried out from under her jacket and
with all the strength in her frail body flung it at an innocent tree.


She was half-surprised to see it quivering at the exact same spot she had
aimed for. She had practiced throwing the knife ever since Halloween and yet
this was the first time it actually ended up exactly where she had wanted it to.
Anger overcame her again however and she stalked to the tree where she grabbed
the heft and tore the knife out of the tree.


There was a real lack of possibilities to get rid of your anger in this
miserable town. Maybe she should look around and see if she could spot a
vampire? That was certainly a target she could take her anger out on. Snorting
at her own ridiculous thoughts she decided to continue heading for home. Hadn’t
she just been telling Jane how she wasn’t physically capable of doing things?
She probably couldn’t even take on an adult with at least some self-defense
training, what made her think she would be able to deal with a vampire?


There were other things she needed to consider however. Although she had
managed to curb most of her anger while she had still been with Jane the
episodes seemed to be getting worse all the time. Despite the unfortunate
examples her friend had used however, Jane had been right about the need for her
to ground herself. But what could she possibly use to do so? There wasn’t
anything that she could actually come up with that was important enough to her
for it to stop her from going berserk.


* * *


Even when I was in a crowd, I was always alone.

Ernest Hemmingway



It was strange to see that written down in her diary. And luckily it wasn’t
really true either. When she wrote it down she had been in a rather depressed
mood and for some reason she couldn’t remember had actually put it in her public
diary. Not that Buffy could possibly understand the importance behind it, after
all she doubted even Jane or Sara would have understood exactly what she meant
by it, but still…


To her the meaning was crystal clear of course. It had been both a reminder
of what she had once been and a warning of what she was starting to become
again. As far as grounding goes she was pretty certain that good friends ranked
high, although from what happened when she was with Jane she now realized that
even they might not be enough. So in an attempt to think of something that would
be enough she had once again remained awake during the night. Even though she
knew the lack of sleep would probably shorten her already dangerously tiny fuse.



Looking up at the clock she noticed it was still only four o’clock. Which
meant there was a lot of time left for her to come up with something. And that
was a very good thing. While she had been afraid of what would happen during her
training, she also realized that was nothing compared to the fallout of
something similar taking place at school. Oh yes, she was pretty certain that
were she to lose her temper there it would be spectacular.


And, no matter how that might look to anyone who saw it, she doubted that she
would be happy with the results. No, there was nothing to it but think of
something that could ground her. Thinking back to the conversation with Jane she
suddenly realized that the answer had been staring her in the face all night
long. With a smile on her face she looked for the small item that she was sure
would help her.


Having found it she held it to her chest for a moment before tracing the
pattern with her fingers in something as close to reverence as she could come.
Yes, this would do. This would definitely do and she owed Jane an apology for
her behavior. That could wait however and in the moonlight she added another
short message to her diary.


But with the right friends, even being alone is not always a hardship.

Dawn Summers



Well, it wasn’t as great a sentence as the other one but it did say what she
felt. Of course, being alone and having friends wasn’t quite compatible but that
was just an unimportant little detail.



“Miss Summers?” Oh no, not again. Close to despair Jane felt the need to
burrow her head in her hands. She had been late today, having overslept
slightly, so she hadn’t been able to talk to Dawn before this first class. And
like the days before the girl had been distracted by whatever it was that she
saw when she was looking through the window like that. Which naturally drew the
attention of the teacher to her.


And with a sinking heart Jane knew what the result to that was, after all it
had been shown often enough yesterday. She turned to look at her friend and
indeed, the brunette was flashing her angry eyes at yet another teacher. Dawn
no, you’ll get into trouble if you keep this up. She wanted to shout it but knew
that would not only be useless but most likely get the both of them into even
more trouble. Turning her head back to the teacher Jane could see how the woman
had taken a step back, just like Mister Fowler yesterday.


Dawn seemed to have noticed as well and a predatory grin started to form on
her lips, it was almost as if she could smell a weak prey. Jane was certain Dawn
would say or do something that would earn her the eternal enmity from the entire
teaching staff. Which, of course, couldn’t be a good thing if you still had to
deal with them on a daily basis.


But her friend didn’t seem to care about that and while time almost seemed to
slow down she could see Dawn open her mouth. Horror gripped her and she couldn’t
stop a whimpering “No.” from escaping her own mouth. She didn’t think anyone
could have heard it but for a moment Dawn turned to her and when that happened
there was a flash of understanding in her eyes. For some reason she then put a
hand in the pocket of her jeans and calmed down almost instantly.


“I’m sorry, Mrs. Collins. What was your question?”


Oh my god! Was this the same Dawn that moments before seemed to be preparing
to practically eat the teacher alive? This could mean only one thing, she had
found something to ground herself and it was something that actually worked.


* * *


“Come on, what did you find?”


“What are you talking about Jane?” Sara wanted to know.


“It’s obvious she found something that grounds her, didn’t you Dawn?” The
last part once more directed at her other best friend.


“Yes, I found something.”


“I knew it! Am I great, or am I great?”


“You are someone whose ego shouldn’t be allowed in this state.” Sara told
her.


“You know I have to agree with Sara there, sometimes I almost think your head
swells up to a size that is far from healthy. And here I was thinking about
apologizing for last night, but I now realize that would only make it worse.”


Looking between her two friends she tried to enjoy the joke but wasn’t really
capable of doing so. “Ha ha. Very funny girls, now Dawnie spill.”


“Oh, alright.” And she watched the other girl take something out of her
pocket.


“You have got to be kidding me.” Taking the small item in her own hands she
turned it around and even tried to open it. “It doesn’t open.”


“No, it’s the prop from Halloween.”


By now Sara too had realized exactly what their friend had used. “You know,
from all the things I had imagined you might use, that watch wasn’t on the
list.”


“Yeah, especially after the way you almost bit my head of last night when I
even mentioned it.” Returning the fake watch she couldn’t help but wonder why
this item would actually be able to help her friend.



In order to pass the time until her friends joined her Dawn was playing a
little with the miraculous watch. No matter how confused her emotions had gotten
today, somehow this little item had been able to get her back onto her feet and
into the world of sane people. Well, not entirely sane perhaps but hey, sanity
was overrated anyway.


“Summers.” Oh great, him again. From where she was sitting she looked up at
the bully that for some inexplicable reason, only known to his tiny brain, had
decided that today it was her turn to serve as his victim.


“Mike.” She said flatly. “What do you want?”


“You’re in my spot.”


“No, I’m not. You never sit here, now go away and leave me in peace.” The
offhanded way she said it was meant to imply to the boy that she didn’t consider
him important enough to actually pay attention to him.


Unfortunately that tiny brain of his didn’t quite get that. “It is my spot
now, go away or I’ll make you go away.”


Damn, she really didn’t want to do this but neither did she have any
intention of being bullied by someone who wasn’t even worthy of cleaning her
shoes. But in order to calm herself down she rubbed her fingers over the watch
and leaned back against the tree with her eyes closed. “Listen Mikey boy. I
don’t care what you want or think you can do. You will go now and leave me in
peace.”


No answer was forthcoming after that but neither could she hear the sound of
retreating footsteps. Oh well, you can’t have everything. Maybe he’d figure out
what she told him before the others arrived so they could at least have a
pleasant lunch. It always smelled so nice here under this tree and with good
friends, who could want more? She allowed a smile to grace her face as she
thought of how good today had been for her. A smile that disappeared at the same
time the watch did.


“What’s this?” Mike held the sacred item up in wonder. “It doesn’t really
look like much, but I think I’ll keep it anyway.”


“Give. It. Back.” The tone of her voice would have clued in anyone with an IQ
of over 20 but it seemed as if she had overrated his intelligence after all.


“Nah, I don’t know what it’s supposed to be but it is quite pretty. Hey,
there are naked girls on it, what do you want with naked girls Summers?”


“I told you to give it back. NOW!” By now she was standing as well, and
although the older boy towered over her, there was no fear inside her, only
anger.


“Nope, I’ll be going now and I’ll take it with me.”


Very well. She had given him fair warning, now it was time to do it the other
way. Her foot shot out, hitting Mike on the side of his upper leg, exactly at
the place she knew would cripple him for several minutes. A red haze started
clouding her vision and when he started falling she spun around and planted her
other foot in his stomach. She then grabbed the arm that was still holding the
watch and broke it in a practiced move, not even noticing the screams that
called attention to the fight.


* * *


“I can’t believe you did that!” Her mother said, angrier than she could
actually remember ever having seen her.


“It was self-defense!” Dawn tried to protest walking behind the woman while
they made their way to the car.


“Self-defense? The boy had his arm broken in two places, a busted nose,
bruised ribs and who knows what else! That’s not self-defense.”


“But.”


“No buts, I don’t know who started the fight and I don’t care. You were the
one that kept going when he was already lying on the ground.”


This wasn’t fair, nobody had believed her version of what had happened. Like
she would have attacked the moron out of choice!


“But mom, he tried to take something from me and when I asked him to give it
back he wouldn’t do it.”


“Didn’t I just say that I didn’t care how or why it started? You should have
known better than to act as you did. It’s all because of that martial arts
training isn’t it?”


“No mom, I’m learning how to control myself there. I learned all this from
television.” Well, that wasn’t exactly a lie was it?


“Fine, then I won’t forbid you from going to those classes but instead you
won’t be allowed to watch television.”


“What?”


“You heard me. You’re grounded for a month. You’re not allowed to invite any
friends, you won’t be allowed to go to any friends, no television, nothing.”


“But mom, what will I do then?”


“If you’re so worried about that now, why weren’t you before you got
expelled? Even if, as you said, for only two weeks.”


Yeah, and after that another month of detention. Somehow that wasn’t exactly
how she had planned to spend the rest of this year. “But.”


“No. There will be no discussion over this, and if you insist on trying I’ll
take your phone away as well.”


Argh! Why couldn’t life ever be fair? Realizing that once again there
wouldn’t be an answer to that question, she got into the car to be transported
to what for the coming month would amount to little more than a prison.



Post-fic comments: Hope you enjoyed it, the next part
“Target: Ethan Rayne” will follow in the usual two days.
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